Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Succession Problem

With Fr Kenyon's impending departure, Bp Lopes now faces the need to replace three senior priests who've founded parishes, in Calgary, San Antonio, and Payson, AZ. In thinking about the different classes of OCSP priests, which I began to talk about yesterday, it seems to me that there are three basic sets: those who've founded full parishes, who will be steadily retiring in coming years; the younger group who so far haven't performed as well (and indeed, some of whom are simply mediocrities); and the next generation of seminarians.

Of the seminarians, my regular correspondent notes,

I suspect that one of Bp Lopes' future staffing problems will be the lack of curacies for his youngest ordinands. Plus the fact that most Catholic priests serve in the community where they grew up and/or attended seminary. Sending a young inexperienced priest to lead a parish in an unfamiliar part of the country with no local colleagues or diocesan support will be challenging, no matter how eager he is to advance Anglican Patrimony. I am very interested to see where Mr Simington will go after his ordination to the priesthood in June. I gather that in the year since his diaconal ordination he has been assisting Fr Scott Blick as Chaplain at the school of which Fr Sellers is the President and parochial administrator of the St Margaret's congregation which meets there.
This suggests Bp Lopes can't simply move a newly ordained priest into one of the upcoming parish vacancies, and probably can't plan to do this in the future. But he has few realistic choices among the younger group, and even if he were to move one of them to a vacancy, this would create a new vacancy in a group that could not pay a priest nor make it practical to relocate one absent assistance from a diocese. Beyond that, even if there are 10 or 11 Anglicans in some sort of formation, as a bishop, I'd be hesitant to approve the idea of bringing such an unknown quantity into my diocese to help out.

I recently heard from an OCSP mediocrity -- he certainly knew the shoe fit in his case and was somewhat exercised about it -- and he pointed out

[B]oth the Roman Catholic and Anglican (at least in the 39 Articles) find that the worthiness (including the theological formation, I imagine) of the minister does not affect the validity of the sacraments.
Yes, of course. But how are potentially disaffected Episcopalians ever going to come over if all the OCSP can point to is that sure, its priests are mediocre, but their sacraments are still valid?